The Evolution of the Lawyer – using technology to assist clients
09 December 2020
Mike Campbell, a Senior Associate in our Banking and Projects practice in Dubai, conceived the idea for our Covid-19 contract review platform and has recently been working on developing legal tech tools and services for clients in the projects, energy, natural resources and infrastructure sector. He explains how legal practice is evolving.
While I’ve always been interested in technology, it’s the frustrations I’ve felt at the inefficiencies in my working life that drew me to explore some of the legal tech tools that are now available – necessity is the mother of invention, so they say.
I think every lawyer has experienced those very late nights in the office where they’re looking through endless pages of know-how to find an answer to something and I’ve certainly had my fair share. It was those sorts of experiences that led me to think in more detail about the work I did on a day to day basis and how I could break tasks down into simple steps to identify where there was room for improvement.
When we present a solution to a client, they can be sure that they are getting best in class legal technology supported by the usual very high standard of legal analysis they expect from us.
Mike Campbell, Senior Associate
The Covid-19 contract review platform came about early on during the pandemic – while clients and their counterparties were struggling to perform their obligations, we realised that legal teams would have to figure out what to do under lots of contracts in a short space of time, in many cases while working remotely for the first time.
Like other firms, we were busy writing knowhow bulletins, but unlike them, we were also designing a solution to help our clients identify and prioritise their contractual exposure and analyse any available relief provisions. To me, the platform represented a more efficient way of assisting our clients but it also allowed us to go beyond offering our traditional legal services and help them understand their contracts and risks in new ways.
The platform was the result of close collaboration between lawyers, in-house technologists and data scientists. While that way of working is a step forward for many, for us at A&O, it is an everyday occurrence. We are an innovative and entrepreneurial firm and the fact that we can engage with technology so easily helps us to understand it better. As a result, when we present a solution to a client, they can be sure that they are getting best in class legal technology supported by the usual very high standard of legal analysis they expect from us.
I think more than ever it is important to have a skillset that goes beyond the traditional. To be an innovative lawyer, you have to be open minded, interested in new ways of working and keen to learn. But it’s as important as ever to focus on our clients and how we can help them with their problems. The exciting thing about technology is the new ways it allows us to do this.
My work still requires me to be focused on what clients need and to provide that at the right time but I have found myself venturing outside of my normal professional circle and building connections with people who work in different disciplines.
By forming relationships with technologists and others who provide alternative legal services, I feel that not only am I gaining insight into new ways of working, but I am able to provide clients with solutions that are probably unique to A&O. We’re working on a number of these sorts of tools for our clients and are very excited about sharing them.